New Zealand First leader and Northland candidate Winston Peters says a call from a National MP to the leader of a roading action group last week amounts to political blackmail.
Leader of the Pipiwai-Titoki action group Alex Wright says she felt bullied after Shane Reti, who is the MP for Whangarei, warned her to keep quiet during the Northland by-election, or risk losing funding for roads.
Ms Wright said she had previously been in email contact with Dr Reti and believes he made the call so as not to leave a paper trail.
"I don't like this sort of behaviour, I think it's appalling, I think it's inappropriate.
"The National Government has actually forgotten about people, we're talking about people and people's lives."
Mr Peters said there was no doubt the call was threatening and was indeed bullying.
"Steven Joyce is running the campaign up here, we all know that. He's made one horrible mistake after another.
"It does image and portray the modern set up in the National Party which is horrifying a whole lot of the National people up in the north."
Dr Reti said he did not bully her.
He said a member of the group had threatened to close the Pipiwai-Titoki Road, and he told Mrs Wright such action could jeopardise the group's aims.